Early Origins of A.A.

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Early Origins of A.A.

Postby ezdzit247 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:11 pm

In 1960, Bill W. was invited by to be the closing speaker at the "NATIONAL CLERGY CONFERENCE ON ALCOHOLISM" in New York. Below is an excerpt from the full transcript of the speech he gave in which Bill credited the famous Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Jung, with having set the course for what we today know as the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.


Early Origins of A.A.

It now occurs to me that it may be profitable if we were to review the origins of AA; to take a look at some of its underlying mechanisms - an interior look as it were. Of course I am here reflecting my own views, and some of these are bound to be speculative. At any rate, here they are.

Though my roots are in the centuries-old Christian community, there seems little doubt that in an immediate sense our fellowship began in the office of the much respected Dr. Carl Jung of Zurich.

As you know, Dr. Jung is one of the pioneers of the psychiatric art who believes that man has a conscience and a soul. In 1930 he had under treatment a prominent American business man who had exhausted all other sources of recovery. He remained with Carl Jung a whole year. And when he left that great doctor he felt very confident that he had made a complete comeback. He felt that the inner springs of his motivations to drink had been revealed; that through this immensely improved understanding he could now manage his own life. Yet, quite unaccountably, he was soon seized with the old malignant compulsion; he was drunk again. In utter despair, he returned to Dr. Jung. In effect, this is what he had to say. "Doctor, you have been my court of last resort. Tell me frankly, is this the end of the line? You know how badly I want to stop. Is there no hope?"
To this plea, Dr. Jung made a rejoinder of great candor, humility and perception, a statement that laid the foundation for Step One of the AA program.

He said to his patient, "I thought that you might be one of the few who might be re-educated. But I’m obliged to conclude that you are like nearly all the rest of the alcoholics I’ve treated. There is nothing whatever in my art that can do anything for " "But," persisted the patient, "is there no other way, is there no other chance?"

"Yes," said Dr. Jung, "there is a chance—a very small one. Your bare chance is that somehow, somewhere you will find a transforming spiritual experience that will expel your obsession."

"But," remonstrated his client, "I’m a man of faith. In fact I used to be an Episcopal vestryman. I still have a faith of sorts. But perhaps God hasn’t much faith in me?"

Then Dr. Jung further explained as follows: "Faith is indispensable, but in cases such as yours, it isn’t enough. I am talking of a transforming experience, a conversion, if you like. I’m talking about conversion at depth, something that will expel your obsession, render you sane, re-motivate you. All through the centuries this sort of thing has happened, but only occasionally; sometimes under religious auspices, sometimes quite spontaneously, and always inexplicably. I can only suggest that you expose yourself to some sort of religious influence and hope for the best, admitting that you can do nothing of your own resources."
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby Brock » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:08 pm

I think we must be careful with this history, yes Bill said in a sense the fellowship began in Jung's office, because Jung said something to Rowland, who passed it on to Ebby, and Ebby 'sponsored' Bill. Look at the last line in the speech, does that sound like setting the course, no, for example here's another of Bill's speeches on the subject -
It was from Sam Shoemaker that we absorbed most of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, steps that express the heart of AA’s way of life. Dr. Silkworth gave us the needed knowledge of our illness, but Sam Shoemaker had given us the concrete knowledge of what we could do about it, he passed on the spiritual keys by which we were liberated. The early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Group and directly from Sam Shoemaker…

Many people were involved, it's not fair to single one like Jung out as having set any “course.” This is AA's article on the origins - http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/aa-timeline
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby ezdzit247 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:37 pm

I think we must be careful with this history, yes Bill said in a sense the fellowship began in Jung's office, because Jung said something to Rowland, who passed it on to Ebby, and Ebby 'sponsored' Bill.


The "something" Jung told Rowland, who passed it on to Ebby, who passed it on to Bill was the solution to recovery from alcoholism--the phenomena of the "vital spiritual experience". Jung provided a working definition of what alcoholics needed to experience in order to achieve and maintain sobriety. He described this phenomena as something "in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them." The purpose of AA's 12 Steps is a means to an end, the end being Jung's "vital spiritual experience".

In this same speech Bill talks about his experiences in the Oxford Group and his reasons for leaving:

"….Before leaving the subject of the Oxford Groups, perhaps I should specifically outline why we felt it necessary to part company with them. To begin with, the climate of their undertaking was not well suited to us alcoholics. They were aggressively evangelical, they sought to re-vitalize the Christian message in such a way as to "change the world." Most of us alcoholics had been subjected to the pressure of evangelism and we had never liked it. The object of saving the world -- when it was still much in doubt if we could save ourselves -- seemed better left to other people. By reason of some of its terminology and by the exertion of huge pressure, the Oxford Group set a moral stride that was too fast, particularly for our newer alcoholics. They constantly talked of Absolute Purity, Absolute Unselfishness, Absolute Honesty, and Absolute Love. While sound theology must always have its absolute values, the Oxford Groups created the feeling that one should arrive at these destinations in short order, maybe by next Thursday! Perhaps they didn’t mean to create such an impression but that was the effect. Sometimes their public "witnessing" was of such a character as to cause us to be shy. They also believe that by "converting" prominent people to their beliefs, they would hasten the salvation of the many who were less prominent. This attitude could scarcely appeal to the average drunk since he was anything but distinguished.


The Oxford Group also had attitudes and practices which added up to a highly coercive authority. This was exercised by "teams" of older members. They would gather in meditation and receive specific guidance for the life conduct of newcomers. This guidance could cover all possible situations from the most trivial to the most serious. If the directions so obtained were not followed the enforcement machinery began to operate. It consisted of a sort of coldness and aloofness which made recalcitrants feel they weren’t wanted. At one time, for example, a "team" got guidance for me to the effect that I was no longer to work with alcoholics. This I couldn’t accept...."
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby tomsteve » Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:25 pm

we could get really into semantics and say the early origins of AA were founded the day bill W took his 1st drink.
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby ODAAT » Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:35 pm

tomsteve wrote:we could get really into semantics and say the early origins of AA were founded the day bill W took his 1st drink.


Or during the time of the Washingtonian movement.
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby tomsteve » Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:12 am

ODAAT wrote:
tomsteve wrote:we could get really into semantics and say the early origins of AA were founded the day bill W took his 1st drink.


Or during the time of the Washingtonian movement.

no doubt!
or the discovery of fermented fruit. :)
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby PaigeB » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:39 am

tomsteve wrote:we could get really into semantics and say the early origins of AA were founded the day bill W took his 1st drink.

Wow - What if he NEVER took a drink? Oh my then where would we be? Maybe AA would have started in China!

Bill opened his speech with conditions and limitations "...to take a look at some of its underlying mechanisms... my own views, and some of these are bound to be speculative..."

And Bill LIKELY had a pretty good grip on what he meant when he used the word speculative:
1. engaged in, expressing, or based on conjecture rather than knowledge:
"discussion of the question is largely speculative"
synonyms: conjectural · suppositional · theoretical · hypothetical
2. (of an investment) involving a high risk of loss.
synonyms: risky · hazardous · unsafe · uncertain · unpredictable
(of a business venture) undertaken on the chance of success, without a preexisting contract.

I point back to the word some. I am sure there are many views and many mechanisms. We would only be wrong if we approached this with a belligerent stance of being the one correct catalyst. Personally, I am surprised that no one has thrown out the Promise of an Intuitive Thought... God Given and passing all other possible impetus. :|
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby positrac » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:39 am

tomsteve wrote:
ODAAT wrote:
tomsteve wrote:we could get really into semantics and say the early origins of AA were founded the day bill W took his 1st drink.


Or during the time of the Washingtonian movement.

no doubt!
or the discovery of fermented fruit. :)


Now that is pretty comical ^^^^^
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby PaigeB » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:55 pm

Early Origins of A.A.

It now occurs to me that it may be profitable if we were to review the origins of AA; to take a look at some of its underlying mechanisms - an interior look as it were.


What did Bill say about meetings?
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby ezdzit247 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:30 pm

PaigeB wrote:
Early Origins of A.A.

It now occurs to me that it may be profitable if we were to review the origins of AA; to take a look at some of its underlying mechanisms - an interior look as it were.


What did Bill say about meetings?


"To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends -- this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives."


I see meetings as one of AA's most successful "mechanisms" for carrying the message that "There Is A Solution" to the disease of alcoholism.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby desypete » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:32 pm

ezdzit247 wrote:
PaigeB wrote:
Early Origins of A.A.

It now occurs to me that it may be profitable if we were to review the origins of AA; to take a look at some of its underlying mechanisms - an interior look as it were.


What did Bill say about meetings?


"To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends -- this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives."


I see meetings as one of AA's most successful "mechanisms" for carrying the message that "There Is A Solution" to the disease of alcoholism.


without the meetings none of us would be here today. we all had to go to our first meeting. and from there the journey starts
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby PaigeB » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:03 am

I am grateful that it was not just a bunch of kids from the treatment center sitting there ready to share AA's message! It truly is a bright spot in my life.
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby positrac » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:54 pm

PaigeB wrote:I am grateful that it was not just a bunch of kids from the treatment center sitting there ready to share AA's message! It truly is a bright spot in my life.

Nowadays it just might be kids because of the early introduction of addictions we face. In 1989 I was one of the younger ones in the rooms out in the area of California I lived and I felt totally out of place at 23. Now those 23 years olds fell old against teens in the program.


At least there is a solution. :wink:
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby ezdzit247 » Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:08 pm

desypete wrote:without the meetings none of us would be here today. we all had to go to our first meeting. and from there the journey starts


I agree. I really didn't have any idea what AA was about other than it was where people with drinking problems went for help until I actually went to my first meeting and experienced it for myself. For me, it was like coming home to a place I'd never known but always hoped existed somewhere in the world. All the honesty, humility, gratitude, love, warmth, and laughter blew me away. Chicken soup for my soul. I knew that the people in the room had something I wanted and needed desperately, had searched for everywhere, but had never found until that first AA meeting.
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Re: Early Origins of A.A.

Postby desypete » Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:04 pm

ezdzit247 wrote:
desypete wrote:without the meetings none of us would be here today. we all had to go to our first meeting. and from there the journey starts


I agree. I really didn't have any idea what AA was about other than it was where people with drinking problems went for help until I actually went to my first meeting and experienced it for myself. For me, it was like coming home to a place I'd never known but always hoped existed somewhere in the world. All the honesty, humility, gratitude, love, warmth, and laughter blew me away. Chicken soup for my soul. I knew that the people in the room had something I wanted and needed desperately, had searched for everywhere, but had never found until that first AA meeting.


me to ezdz

an its still there today 12 years on and love our fellowship and the people in it
i might not like them all of course but the spirit of the rooms in aa is just my medicine i need in my life i can not explain it to anyone really how much a room full of drunks helps me, but i have come to believe with all my heart and soul in aa it has brought me a new life that for once in my existence i am content with my lot :)

members like you ezdz who keep it all simple for me to follow and understand shine out as the people who have what i want in the fellowship and thankfully there are plenty of them around.

also members who work hard in aa doing service work set the examples of what i should do to they give of themselves without reward, there happy to make the tea and just get the rooms ready for the members who might be in need that day

sadly we do have more than our fair share of aa experts who do bugger all in the fellowship but give out great speaches showing off there wisdoms that they think impresses
its a bit like watching a peacock trying to attract a mate with the full feathers on show when you hear an expert giving it large in the rooms but the sad thing is they are unable to see it in themselves YET !
but at least we keep on telling them tHE simple message of keep on coming back as one day they might just might wake up and get real and honest in all there affairs

but there i go again judging others

i will slap my own wrists for judging again its just so easy to do isnt it ? no doubt some will be reading this and judging me ( how dare they dont they know who i am ) =biggrin
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